“Engage your core” … how many times have you heard that? So much that it has probably become lost in translation.
Do you ever feel like your body is just shaking and straining when trying to complete an activity that requires some form of stabilisation of your muscles? Chances are you could benefit from some core activation exercises.
I know what you’re thinking; why should I bother? What are these magical muscles? How do I engage them in a way that will transform me into a superhuman?
Now I can’t promise you superhuman strength or powers, but I can take you through the rest.
Think of your core muscles as an intersection. To get power from your legs to your shoulders, that force must travel through your core.
So, a strong core = increased ability to transfer power from one end of your body to another.
Your core is essential for a lot of daily activities. Whether you’re tying up your shoelaces, standing, bending down to pat your dog, cat (or exotic pet); you activate your core with every movement you perform.
Any jobs, sports or hobbies that require bending, lifting, twisting, jolting, carrying, hammering, running and reaching all stem from the core muscles. Even something as simple as dusting the house can come from your core!
As we become older, our bones, cartilage, and ligaments become weaker. Having strong and stable core muscles helps to support our bones and surrounding structures to help us move better. Knee pain is a common injury complaint that I come across in my clinical work with some of my older clients, and it can be a result of poor pelvic and abdominal stabilisation. Building up your core strength may help prevent the occurrence of feeling weak and/or having pain in your knees.
One of the most important muscles that contribute to stability and control in your body is your diaphragm. This is the muscle that moves up and down as you breath in and out to increase/decrease space in your abdomen and rib cage.
For example, power lifters take and hold an ENORMOUS breathe when lifting weight. The pressure being held by the diaphragm muscle supports the lower back and other abdominal muscles during this lift.
Want to learn how to contract your diaphragm? Watch below.
- Lie on the floor face up with knees slightly bent.
- Place your hands lightly on your stomach.
- Concentrate on breathing using the diaphragm, not using the chest, and feeling the stomach rise as the lungs fill from the bottom.
- Let the stomach fall naturally when breathing out by relaxing the diaphragm.
- Progress by placing a small weight on the stomach, such as a small book, and do it all again.
- The next stage is to stand up and place your hands on your stomach again, feeling how you breathe. Surprisingly, you may find this step requires some concentration initially.
So, don’t forget, whether you’re kicking a ball, lifting weights or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core, or travel through it.
– Amanda Kovacev | Myotherapist